BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
Gabriel Eyide is a legal practitioner based in Warri, Delta state. In this interview, he spoke on burning national issues such as restructuring, local government autonomy and the frequent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and the farmers. He also spoke on his political aspiration.
What impact do you think the current government in Delta state has made in Warri North Local Government Area ?
The present administration in the state has not done much for Warri North. The governor got massive support from the local government but there is nothing on ground to show that Governor Okowa has any consideration for the local government in the scheme of things. There is no infrastructural development in the area. Although it is a riverine local government but some development can still be carried out there.
How has the APC- led Federal Government treated the Niger Delta?
Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, nothing has come to the Niger Delta region. As for the President, his integrity is not in doubt but some of the people around him are not helping him. The human resource capital in the South south needs to be retooled and equipped for more impact. The so called free meal programme of the Federal Government for schools is a fraud. In most of the schools in Sapele and Warri north local government area you can’t see anything. The programme is fraught with corruption, it is like a leaking pocket where so much money has been ploughed into it but there is no result.
What is your response to the demand for restructuring ?
What we need is implementation of the laws of the country. Nigeria has many laws which are not being implemented. There are so many things in the constitution especially in the concurrent list, which both the state and the Federal Government can do together. I remember Lagos state government went to court to enforce their rights over NIMASA operations relating to dredging. Although NIMASA has filed an appeal in the matter, we are waiting for what the court would say. All these are parts of restructuring, you can see Lagos state going back to the constitution to enforce their rights. Every month states are given their allocation, so the question should be how the states are utilising the funds.
What is your comment on this contention between INEC and the National Assembly over election timetable
This issue has been over flogged, INEC should go to court for interpretations and the matter will be laid to rest. The issue has been politicized. The fear that if presidential election comes first, there will be a bandwagon effect for me is neither here no there. The important thing is for us to do the right thing. If INEC is empowered by the Electoral Act and the Senate is saying it has oversight functions and powers to make changes the intervention of the court should be sought. But I think what is important is for the nation to have a credible election.
Any word on local government autonomy?
It is unfortunate that the current crop of lawmakers in the State Houses of Assembly do not see the need for local government autonomy. The constitution is clear on the tiers of government. The local government must be strengthened by way of allowing the political structure to function. A strong and resourceful local government will enhance our federalism, it will allow local government function properly and there will be accountability at the local government level.
How do we resolve the frequent conflicts between herdsmen and farmers?
The Fulani herdsmen are always not the owners of the cows. They are just engaged in the pastoral responsibilities. In most cases, the owners of the cows are far away from where the cows are. We should know the owners of the cows, so that we can check the menace of the herdsmen. The herdsmen have been around since the creation of Nigeria, we have not been resentful of them. I don’t know if it was because the President is a Fulani man, that we are experiencing this impunity. I remember a Fulani herdsman was convicted some years ago for gun running in Sapele. I handled the brief to a point when he was arrested and prosecuted because they found bullets on him illegally. During the trial I got to know that his boss was in Abuja.
Apparently, there is always somebody high up there who recruits the Fulani herdsmen to handle the cows. The herdsmen take care of the cows and their allowances are paid. Those who recruit the herdsmen are behind the illegal weapons. When they are identified, we will have a solution to the problem .
You have an aspiration for the House of Assembly
I do, I want to go to the House of Assembly but I have not decided on the constituency I will represent. I am offering myself for the race. I wish to represent Sapele Local Government and I am bringing into the race, my wealth of experience as a private sector business man, a trained economist, in practical human management, and human relations before ending up as a lawyer.
I believe there is much to be done but what we are experiencing in Sapele, Warri north is unfair, there is hunger in the land. The mass majority of the people are suffering. There is so much of budgetary provision every year but we don’t see it being translated into better lives for the people. I am offering myself to change this ugly situation. I will use legislative advocacy to bring the dividends of democracy to the people.